Since the birth of the cloud twenty years ago, technology has changed the accounting industry in a profound way – speeding up processes and reducing the margin for error. This metamorphosis doesn’t show any signs of slowing as the fintech revolution continues – in fact, 71% of UK accountants believe knowledge of automation in their sector will be crucial to their success within five years and 83% believe that understanding technology is as important to their job as understanding accountancy. It’s certainly a hot topic – take Helen Brand’s recent article on navigating uncertainty in City AM for example.
With so much change on the horizon for the industry, what’s the future for accountancy? Our recently released State of Accounts report revealed that real-time data visibility is paving the way for a new breed of accountant – financial data analysts.
Time (and trust) is money
Slicing financial and operational data from the cloud lets accountants provide the vital commercial insights that we know small business owners want. Our report revealed that the typical small business owner is more than happy to pay for management consultancy if their business is struggling, with some prepared to pay up to £100,000.
Another insight from the report revealed the importance of trust in business – accountants and bookkeepers were overwhelmingly voted as the most trusted advisors to small business owners. Accountants are used by many more small businesses than any other advisor (43%), giving them a foot in the door when it comes to guiding small businesses financially.
With this in mind, we asked whether accountants could add more value to the business they worked for if they had more time, and over two thirds (68%) agreed. While compliance has traditionally been a core part of the accountant’s role, technology enables more of the routine tasks to become automated (take the digitisation of tax as an example), leaving more time for accountants to focus on delivering financial expertise.
The demand for accountants to provide additional services other than compliance, is backed by SMBs too – 56% of them plan on using accountants within the next 10 years for value-added services such as management consultancy.
Advise for future number-crunchers
When it comes to future number-crunchers, almost half of accountants (48%) in our report recommend that accountancy graduates focus on business management in order to prepare for a career beyond 2025, and more than a quarter recommend they study management consultancy (27%) and computer science (25%) – a fascinating insight into the way accountants see the industry evolving.
But, despite the step change the financial industry has seen over the last decade, there’s a lot of positivity – 64% of UK accountants are excited for the future as opposed to 35% who are nervous. Regardless of its form, for as long as financial expertise is needed by businesses, the future is bright for accountants.
Learn what UK accountants and small business owners think of recent technological changes and the future of accounting in our State of Accounts report.